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Chamber of Commerce wary of regulation

Keeping an eye on government regulation over small businesses, continuing economic research on trends, and maintaining essential services was the mantra at the recent Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Annual convention.

The event held at the Grand Prospect Hall drew about 300 Chamber members and about 40 exhibitors participating in the trade show before the gala dinner.

According to Chamber President and CEO Carl Hum, the organization is keeping a watchful eye on how government is continuing to regulate small business.

“There seems to be a lot of legislation at the City Council level and other [government] bodies that seems to have an effect on business and how business is done, and we have to be vigilant to make sure proposed legislation doesn’t cost business and our business climate,” said Hum.

Hum said, for example, there is proposed legislation that would require every retail establishment to get a different kind of gate, and the state instituted a surcharge on the payroll to bail out the MTA, which could hurt small businesses.

“Basically, we have to make sure the small business community will be able to survive, and we have to be vigilant in identifying these issues on our membership,” he said.

Hum said also in 2010, the Chamber is looking outward in terms of doing more studies such as their annual Brooklyn Labor Market Review to see what the economy is doing. The more research is done on the economy allows for better planning to reacts to the trends, he said.

Lastly, Hum said the Chamber will keep improving on existing services that it already provides and on which the business community relies.

These services includes the Business Solution Center, which does everything from facilitate lending to recruiting employees to procuring government contracts. The Chamber also runs Brooklyn Healthworks, a low-cost health insurance plan designed to assist eligible small businesses and organizations in the borough provide comprehensive health coverage to their employees and family members.

The annual meeting’s keynote address was given by Norm Brodsky, long-time Chamber member, veteran entrepreneur and Inc. Magazine columnist, who spoke about approaches to handling and keeping both customers and valuable employees.

Complimentary copies of Brodsky’s book, “The Knack: How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn to Handle Whatever Comes Up,” were also distributed.

The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce brought in revenues of about $3.6 million for the year ending Dec. 31, 2008. After expenses, their net assets was about $270,000.

Twenty-five percent of the chamber’s membership is made of business services, followed by 16 percent from the finance, insurance and real estate sectors, while service and government makes up about 10 percent, manufacturing and wholesale distribution, and 6 percent each from the retail, construction supplies and services, and eating and drinking establishments.

Elected for his second year as Chamber Chair was Peter Meyer of TD Bank.

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